Voice Inflection

by

Richard Swallow


Teacher:

A simple oral language lesson can be used to illustrate that one must use caution in how they use their voices to say something to another person because simply speaking one word louder than the others, thereby emphasizing or "stressing" it, can change the entire meaning of the message. Write the sentence below on the board and ask students to read it to themselves and to think about what it means. Give them about a minute, then ask several different students to verbalize what the sentence means to them. You should get several different responses. Next, underline the words, one at a time (as shown below) and each time you underline a new word have a different student reread the sentence, stessing the underlined word. Each time a different word is stressed, ask the students to respond about how the sentence has changed in meaning.

Sentence:

I DIDN'T SAY MINNI STOLE MY BLUE PEN. (Don't use "Minni" if you have a student by that name.)

Statement Implication

I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (Someone else said it.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (Strong denial of having said it.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (I implied or suspected that she did, wrote or otherwise indicated so.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (Someone else stole it.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (She did something else with it.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (She stole someone else's pen. I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (She stole one of another color.) I didn't say Minni stole my blue pen. (She stole something else blue.)

If Time Permits

This will help you determine if the students understand the concept. Ask students to make up a sentence of 6 words or less in which stressing each different word changes the meaning of the sentence.